We address environmental and climate change issues by reducing CO₂ emissions, energy consumption, water withdrawal and preserving natural habitats and their biodiversity in the areas surrounding our plants.
Raw material extraction
Raw materials extraction represents the first phase in the cement production process. This phase has an impact on both the natural and the surrounding environment.
With our quarrying activities we link and prioritize three of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through the following actions:
Quarry rehabilitation plan
Raw materials extraction has an inevitable impact on the surrounding environment: the removal of soil and changes in the topography of the area can, in fact, affect local ecosystems and watersheds.
To address and mitigate these effects, we can, and must, intervene through the development and implementation of an effective quarry rehabilitation plan. For this reason, 95% of quarries used by the Group have a rehabilitation plan in place.
The plans define the goal and timing for the reintegration of a quarry into the surrounding landscape. The conversion processes begin when the quarry is still in operation, reclaiming the areas that are no longer used.
There are several reconversion projects that we carry out with particular attention to respecting and restoring biodiversity, such as in Belgium, where we participate in the Life in Quarries initiative, a project funded by the European Commission precisely to develop biodiversity and reconversion of disused quarries.
Quarrying activity management
Before deciding to acquire and open any new quarry, all safety aspects, including impacts on the environment, flora and fauna and water resources are carefully analyzed and planned. We also always evaluate any social impacts and land recovery plans once the quarry is depleted.
Our goal is always to minimize or eliminate any potential negative impact that may occur as a result of quarrying activities, but we also work to increase potential positive impacts where possible.
Part of our work also falls into risk management: we analyze environmental risks to ensure compliance with current regulations and the best environmental standards and Best Available Technique (BAT) and we coordinate so that all the Group's businesses operate with an environmental management system certificate.
The commitment to safeguarding water is an integral part of our sustainability strategy. We recognize access to water as a right and promote initiatives to reduce the risk of water supply, especially in the most vulnerable areas.
In line with our policy, we have set improvement objectives consistent with those of sustainable development promoted by the United Nations.
Water supply is considered in the risk / opportunity assessment of our activities. We promote efficient water management practices, through, but not limited to, recycling / reuse, the minimization of freshwater withdrawals, the containment of wastewater discharges. Such initiatives are even more important at cement production sites located in areas of high water stress according to the World Resources Institute's “Aqueduct” risk map.
WATER RISK INDICATORS
Aqueduct's water risk indicators map water hazards such as floods, drought and stress, using open-source data. The indicators have been developed using long-term hydrological modeling and are periodically updated.
Water stress measures the ratio between the total water withdrawals and the available surface and underground renewable reserves (stocks) in a specific geographical area. Withdrawals include domestic, industrial and agricultural uses, consumed and not consumed.
Higher values of the indicator indicate greater competition between users and therefore greater stress.
The areas with high water stress risk are those with values higher than 40%.
We develop a constructive collaboration relationship, based on maximum openness and trust, towards local communities and institutions because we believe in sharing the challenges for water conservation as a common resource.
About 90% of the Group's total water withdrawals relate to cement production. In 2020, 31% of our total water withdrawal came from plants located in areas subject to high water stress.
By 2030, the Group targets reducing by 20% water consumption per ton of cement compared to 2019. In areas with high water stress, the goal is to reduce consumption per ton of cement by 25%.
Starting from July 2021, we participate in the CDP Water Security questionnaire for transparency on water management.